I work for an organisation that has 3 offices in Scotland.  The other 2 are in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and all have my specific department.  Once upon a time (before my time) there would be much in the way of communication and meetings to make sure everyone was doing the exercises and procedures the same throughout Scotland.  Nowadays, through budget cuts and scheduling constraints, that doesn’t happen.

Until today.  Today for the first time in many years, all 3 versions of my department were to meet up for a ‘training session’ – a chance to get together and see how different we were, and how we could improve ourselves.  Deep down I think the majority could hear the silent ‘find out what you can stop doing and reduce your workload so we don’t need to hire so many of you’ but to be fair, we’ve been hearing that for the past 2 years.

The chosen venue was Edinburgh, so early in the morning our team headed south, and only got a little bit lost when we came out the wrong entrance of the station.  However, the guy who had written down the directions had used pubs as landmarks, so it was easy enough to get back on track.

Not entirely sure how useful it was.  When you consider how much money it cost to get all 3 teams into the same place, and the fact that we spent nearly as much time travelling as we did in the meeting, it seems an awful lot of hassle and difficulty for something not all that vital.  It seemed the highlight of everyone’s day was getting lunch (there was pizza!).

That said, it was the first time in years we could put names to faces – we don’t email or call the other offices very often, but a few names do cross our paths.  On top of which, it gave us a chance to do what we love to do to people who also love to do it – complain about our jobs.  Specifically, the things that make our job just that little bit harder than it has to be.

Computer system not up to the challenges? – preaching to the choir.  Other departments not appreciating your work? – been there, done that.  Jobs that you can’t physically do due to equipment and staff? (Even got into an our folding machine’s worse than your folding machine argument too!).

If nothing else, this meeting gave us fair warning about another job that could be coming our way.  One office has started working on it, and apparently it’s a bit of a monster size wise.  We’d never heard of it, so at least we’ve gotten some warning.  And staff from other offices got fair warning that we weren’t piloting a mailing service, as it never actually came to fruition (they were of the assumption that we were trialling it for nationwide use – that was the plan, it just never happened).

Apparently this is going to happen at least one more time to get a follow up on what everyone said.  We’ve at least managed to group together as a solid entity and shout with one voice what needs to change – not that anyone thinks that means it’ll change any more than it was before, but we can live in perpetual hope.  Somewhat looking forward to tomorrow when I can read the email with all the points we made – there were a few points made that could mean we can drop a few exercises and focus on the really important ones.  Considering the monster-exercise that may be coming our way, that would be highly appreciated.

We arrived just before 10.30, and so we could get the right train back, we left at 3 to make it to the station.  You forget just how…exhausting travel can be.  Especially when you started early in the morning, then spend most of the day sitting before having to travel back less than 6 hours later.  Its a different tired to exercise tired, but no less draining.